Taciano Rizal (Who May Be Jose Rizal's Distant Relative) Attempted to Assassinate Ramon Magsaysay

He went from Communist to beloved mayor of Calamba.
IMAGE Roland Mae Tanglao

From myths and absurd rumors to relationships, we here at Esquire have just about explored every detail about Jose Rizal's life. He is, after all, the country's national hero. But if there's one thing that we haven't discussed a lot, it's his relatives.

The Filipino "Today I Learned" Reddit community uncovered something of interest. User thirdworldpcgamer wrote:

TIL Rizal's descendant once tried to assassinate Ramon Magsaysay

On the day he was sworn into office as Secretary of National Defense, Magsaysay received an anonymous phone call from a man who wished to talk to him about the insurgent movement. An hour after the call, Magsaysay met Tarciano Rizal on a deserted back street in one of Manila's barrios. (Rizal was the grandson of Jose Rizal, a national folk hero and freedom fighter from the 1896 rebellion.) As proved the case with other would be assassins, Rizal came to Manila to kill Magsaysay but heard so many glowing reports about the Secretary that he decided to meet him first. For several days the two men discussed the Huk movement, its roots, its goals, and what Magsaysay wanted to do for the Philippines. When their talks concluded, Rizal was convinced of Magsaysay's sincerity and offered to help him. He took the Secretary to his Manila apartment from which the two watched a local lady leave two baskets of food for CPP Politburo members.28 When Magsaysay returned to his office and told the chief of Philippine intelligence what he had seen, he was informed of the ongoing government operation to try to keep track of this CPP group.


The Reddit user links to a case study, The Hukbalahap Insurrection by Lawrence M. Greenberg, which mentions Taciano (mistakenly referred to as Tarciano) in passing. Who was Taciano? Here's what you need to know about him.

It's unclear how he's really related to Jose Rizal.

In a 2005 Philippine Star article, it's alleged that Rizal is an undocumented younger brother of the national hero. The author also refers to stories about him being a grandson of Jose Rizal. A general register of the Supreme Court from January 29, 1949 offers more clues about Taciano Rizal's family, referring to his siblings Justina and Sisenando Rizal.

He was at one point on the run for the murder of his brother-in-law.

The same general register details the events of March 31, 1946, and how he borrowed an ambulance and drove to the victim's house in Aviles, Manila:

Taciano and the three appellants for the ambulance of Arturo Gomez and drove it to Teofilo's house in Aviles. Upon seeing Teofilo they forced him to go with them in the ambulance. After some time they were driving through Taft Avenue. At about 7 o'clock in the morning, upon reaching the intersection of Libertad, Teofilo jumped out of the car through the backdoor. Alejandro Mendiola shot him. After the shooting Taciano and appellants scampered away. Teofilo was helped by traffic policeman Leonardo Roxas, who took him to the Philippine general Hospital, where a few day later he died to generalized peritonitis and hyphostatic pneumonia, secondary to gunshot wounds thorough the abdomen, lacerating the omentum and transversing the colon.

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He tried to assassinate Ramon Magsaysay.

By the '50s, Rizal had become involved with the Hukbong Laban sa Hapon (Hukbalahap) and was known by many aliases such as Commander Mac and Commander Arthur. He was the hatchet man of Luis Taruc, one of the organization's leaders, and one of his tasks was to assassinate then-Secretary of National Defense Ramon Magsaysay.

On Magsaysay's first day in office, he received word that a Huk leader known as Commander Arthur wanted to talk to him about the insurgent movement. The two men discussed this and more, as well as what Magsaysay wanted to do for the Philippines. In an excerpt from an article by Manuel Manahan from Reader's Digest, Magsaysay reportedly said: "How can a Rizal fight on the side of a foreign ideology? If your ancestor were alive, he would surely seek peaceful reforms."

The meeting itself was part of an assassination plot, but Rizal had a change of heart and ended up divulging the names and whereabouts of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (Communist Party of the Philippines) in Manila. The rest, as they say, is history.

He was a mayor of Calamba.

Rizal followed his brother Sisenando's footsteps and served three terms as mayor of Calamba. First from 1960 to 1963, then from 1964 to 1967, and finally from 1972 to 1975. He went on to live a peaceful life, becoming one of the most loved mayors of Calamba.

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Paolo Chua
Associate Style Editor
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor at Esquire Philippines, where he writes about fashion and grooming. Before joining Esquire Philippines, he was a writer at Town & Country Philippines.
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